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Insights Strategic alternatives to HS2 Phase 2b

High Speed 2 (HS2) is a new high speed rail network being developed and promoted by HS2 Ltd. Tasked with delivering economic growth, transformational connectivity improvements, journey time reductions and capacity enhancements, the scheme as proposed by HS2 Ltd involves developing a Y shaped network, connecting eight of the ten largest cities in Britain. As proposed it involves three phases: Phase 1, Phase 2a and Phase 2b. 

Phase 1 and 2a together build a new high speed line between London and Crewe as well as Birmingham. HS2 Phase 2b is the final phase of the Y-network of the HS2 Ltd scheme. It involves completing the western leg up to Manchester and Golborne from Crewe and the eastern leg via the East Midlands to Leeds and Colton Junction.

In line with HM Treasury Green Book guidance, alternatives to the proposed investment must be considered before a formal decision is made.  For these assessments, the alternatives are focussed on providing similar outputs to HS2 Phase 2b in terms of benefits, journey times and capacity by using more elements of an improved existing rail network. In total five different options were to be developed, tested and appraised. Strategic Alternatives to Phase 2b specifically referred to alternatives to the final stage of the project. 

Atkins have a long history supporting the Department for Transport with Strategic Alternative assessments. Firstly in 2013, Atkins provided an assessment of alternatives to HS2 in total. In 2015 this was followed by an assessment of the alternatives to HS2 Phase 2a which included an extension to Crewe, and in 2016 Atkins were commissioned to deliver an assessment of the alternatives to HS2 Phase 2b.   

Atkins were remitted to develop and appraise possible rail alternatives to HS2 Phase 2b, updating our previous work in 2013 to take account of changes to the baseline. The analysis was multifaceted and wide reaching, encompassing elements of rail operations, appraisal, cost estimating, network assessment and wider rail considerations. Throughout the project, Atkins engaged with and operated alongside key stakeholders of Network Rail and DfT to develop a realistic, appropriate and deliverable alternative to HS2 Phase 2b.

Our talented team undertook the following as part of the specification process:

  • development of strategic options for serving HS2 destinations via other routes;
  • continued liaison and undertaking of workshops with stakeholders such as Network Rail and DfT;
  • developed train service specifications for the different options with accompanying high-quality diagrams; and,
  • used extensive industry knowledge and experience to identify appropriate enabling schemes.

For the analysis of the specified options, Atkins developed the following:

  • subcontracting agreements to deliver technical excellence on the establishing of some of the schemes;
  • an approach and method for calculating the journey times of the alternative options;
  • a model to calculate the required rolling stock to run each option;
  • inputted train service specifications into the PLANET Framework Model (PFM) to test the impact of the alternative service patterns; 
  • approaches for taking into account wider strategic impacts of the options including network and rolling stock capacity; punctuality and reliability, disruption and the environment; developed detailed cost estimates of the schemes using industry standard approaches through collaborative working with Faithful and Gould; and,
  • an appraisal model to take into account the outputs from the capital costs, operating costs and PFM model.

Using this base, Atkins delivered the following:

  • a flexible, agile and resilient project team to deliver quality results against tight deadlines;
  • a comprehensive list of schemes considered necessary to deliver each alternative option;
  • detailed cost estimates for each option, in terms of operating, rolling stock and capital costs;
  • an assessment of the outputs from PFM for each option, including the economic and wider economic benefits;
  • regular and ongoing stakeholder relations to reflect processes within Network Rail and DfT;
  • a technical assessment of the impact of the options on network capacity, on-train capacity, punctuality and reliability, disruption and the environment; 
  • an appraisal of each option incorporating costs and benefits; and,
  • a comprehensive summary report for publishing as part of the HS2 Phase 2b document suite, released in November 2016.

Client: Department for Transport
Value of services: £0.3 m
Duration: 6 months